Great news this week for lorry drivers whose deliveries involve journeys in the UK, with the announcement by the Department for Transport that £8m funding is being made available to improve truck roadside facilities – with a further £11m coming from industry itself. About time that those who keep us in food, drink, fuel, electrical products and the like are properly looked after… not forgetting people delivering cleaning products along with those whose job it is to service or repair cleaning equipment!
The funding comes from the Government's HGV Parking & Driver Welfare Grant Scheme and forms part of up to £100 million joint investment between Government and industry to support the logistics sector by helping address the shortage of HGV drivers and boost recruitment and retention, while also helping boost economic growth. A total of 39 roadside facility operators will receive a share of the money, which will be used to boost welfare facilities such as showers, rest areas and restaurants, and increase HGV parking capacity while improving security for drivers.
The scheme draws on last year’s ‘National Survey on Lorry Parking' which provides important evidence as to what improvements are needed and where to boost the nation's roadside infrastructure. It won’t come as any surprise that well-maintained toilets and showers are the key feature, with 99% of drivers selecting this as very important. This was followed by a good range of food, available spaces to park, social spaces and cost of parking to reflect the facilities available. ‘Clean’ was a word that appeared frequently in the responses. There was a strong feeling within the group that European facilities were good (even basic ones) and the UK ones are poor in comparison and I’m aware from speaking to contacts in the industry that some of the conditions truckers have to face in the UK are appalling.
With hauliers required to take mandatory breaks and rest periods, building better roadside facilities will improve the quality of HGV drivers' rest and recovery and make our roads safer for all of us. Being able to offer good, clean facilities is also better for business, isn’t it? Facilities that make the best use of this new funding will no doubt find that drivers will make a beeline for them and bypass those that aren’t up to scratch. I’m grateful that our truckers are finally going to be looked after. It's been a long time coming.